A mother of four who is forty five years of age, four persons of Fulani extraction: Babangida Saleh, Abubakar Ibrahim, Bukar Ali and Mohammed Mohammed including 11 others have been arrested in Abia State by the State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for alleged bunkering.
Mr Vincent Ogu, the State Commandant of the corps, said in Umuahia on Wednesday while briefing journalists on the activities of his command in discharging its core mandate that the suspects were arrested at different locations in the state.
He maintained that not only were they involved in bunkering; they were also involved in offences bordering on illegal dealings in petroleum products and operating without lincence.
The suspects, Babangida Saleh, Abubakar Ibrahim, Bukar Ali and Mohqmmed Mohammed including the mother four, Chinyere Ezeali were arrested while conveying about 30,000 litres of suspected petroleum products in a truck with Reg. No. GYA611XA to an unknown destination.
.The NSCDC boss further revealed that one Lawrence Ahmed, Johnson Akinrinola and Ofo-Obong Francis were equally arrested while conveying 10 drums of suspected petroleum products concealed in cellophane bags in a Volkswagen Bus with Reg. No EZA879XA.
In the same vein, the Abia NSCDC boss stated that one Daniel Ikechukwu and Ugochukwu Alozie were also allegedly conveying 20,000 litres of petroleum products in a truck with Reg. No. NSR311SA, when they were arrested by the corps.
The commandant disclosed that men of the Anti-Vandal Unit of the command impounded a Toyota Camry car with Reg. No KPR413EE already loaded with product suspected to be diesel during a routine patrol, saying that the suspects took to their heels, when they sighted the operatives of NSCDC, abandoning their vehicle and the 250-litre product.
He explained that Elijah Peters, Lawal Ibrahim, Haruna Zuberu and the mother of four, Chinyere Ezeali, were arrested in Aba on Feb. 26 for their alleged involvement in oil bunkering, using a truck with Reg. No. DKA353XP and that all the suspects did not have the licence to deal in petroleum products, while the trucks and other vehicles lacked the permit to be used for conveying the commodities.
Ogu warned Abia youths against involving in crimes and criminality, including the vandalism of critical government infrastructure, stressing, “any attack on the critical national assets and infrastructure is an attack on the economic well being of every Nigerian and the corps must resist it”.
The NSCDC boss therefore charged his officers and men to redouble their efforts to decisively deal with the menace of oil theft, vandalism and general insecurity in the state, pointing out that the new Commandant-General of the corps, Dr Ahmed Audi, had provided the enabling environment, including improved welfare package and training, to enable the organisation to provide quality service delivery.
Said he, “My men do not have any excuse whatsoever not to efficiently deliver on the corps’ mandate”.
On the prosecution of the suspects in court, Ogu maintained that the suspects would be arraigned for diligent prosecution, while the trucks they used in the illegal bunkering would be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The command, he informed, had secured five convictions at the Federal High Court, Umuahia within the five months of his assumption of office as the 10th state commandant.
But in an interview, some of the suspects confessed to the crime, while some denied being part of it.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.